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Somalia - Kenya

Somalia cuts ties with Kenya over accusations of meddling in Somaliland

Relations between Somalia and Kenya have soured over several issues, including Nairobi's support of the leadership of semi-autonomous Jubaland
Relations between Somalia and Kenya have soured over several issues, including Nairobi's support of the leadership of semi-autonomous Jubaland STRINGER AFP/File

Somalia has announced it is severing ties with Kenya, accusing its neighbour of interfering in its affairs on the eve of anticipated elections in 2021.

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The abrupt end came a day after Kenya hosted Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, the head of the self-proclaimed independent state that is not recognised by Somalia.

Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, have been given seven days to leave, and Somalia’s representatives were being recalled from Nairobi, said Somali Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe.

"The Somali government considers the people of Kenya a peace-loving community who want to live in harmony with other societies in the region. But the current leadership of Kenya is working to drive the two sides apart," the minister said.

"The government took this decision to respond to recurring outright political violations and interference by Kenya against the sovereignty of our country."

East African leaders are slated to meet on 20 December in Djibouti to discuss the issue, among others.

Good neighbours?

While the two countries have had past issues, Kenya hosts some 200,000 Somalis in refugees camps in the east of the country. It is also a major contributor of troops to the African Union military operation AMISOM, fighting al-Shabaab insurgents who have terrorised both Kenya and Somalia since 2004.

Al-Shabaab declared responsibility for the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi that killed 71 people, as well as the 2014 Garissa College attack that killed 148 people.

"We have a lot of commonality between these two countries, and anything that is capable of undermining that, is of course something that efforts must be put in place to ensure it is resolved," said Kenyan foreign ministry spokesman Cyrus Oguna.

In November 2019, both countries agreed to start re-issuing travel visas to each other after a territorial dispute of Indian Ocean claimed by both where it is believed to hold deposits of oil and gas.

In early 2019, Somalia started to auction off oil and gas blocks in the disputed area, reigniting the dispute. Kenya recalled its ambassador from Mogadishu in February.

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